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Sebastian Barry  [ Ireland ]

Biography

Guest 2009.

Bibliography

The Engine of Owl-Light
Carcanet Press
Manchester, 1987

Boss Grady’s Boys
Raven Arts Press
Dublin, 1989

The Steward of
Christendom
Methuen Drama with
Royal Court Theatre
London, 1995

Die Zeitläufte des
Eneas McNulty
S. Fischer
Frankfurt/Main, 1999
[Ü: Esther Kinsky]

Ein verborgenes Leben
Steidl
Göttingen, 2009
[Ü: Hans-Christian Oeser]

Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955. Son of Abbey theatre actress Joan O'Hara, he was raised in London and the Irish capital, attended Catholic University School there and later studied English and Latin at Trinity College. After completing his studies, he spent several years living abroad in Europe before becoming an Honorary Fellow in Writing at Iowa University in 1984. One year later, he returned to his native Ireland and made a name for himself there as a poet, playwright and novelist.

In Barry's works, a broad interest in politics and history is intertwined with autobiographical elements. Time and again, the author delves into his family history as well as his personal experiences and memories in order to shed light on specific aspects of Irish culture which have been forgotten or ignored in the official version of history. For example, his best-known drama, »The Steward of Christendom« (1995), which has received numerous awards and been performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), turns the spotlight on Barry’s great-grandfather, Thomas Dunne. He suffers through Ireland’s struggle for independence as a senior officer of the Dublin Metropolitan Police who is loyal to the British crown. It is not uncommon for Barry to use outsiders as central figures in his works. His first play, »Boss Grady’s Boys« (1988), tells the story of two older, unmarried brothers who run a remote country farm together.

The author’s latest major success is the novel »The Secret Scripture« (2008), the story of a nearly 100-year-old woman who has been tucked away in a secluded psychiatric institute for several decades and is recording her life story in a notebook. At the same time, her therapist is creating a notebook of his own about her as he may have to discharge her from the clinic. The two artfully interwoven narratives, which are set in the period leading up to the Irish civil war, create an alternative version of Irish history that is metaphorically detained within the institute. The book was short-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Additionally, the auth or was awarded the 2008 Costa Book of the Year Award and the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award for the work. It is being translated into 27 languages. Sebastian Barry lives in County Wicklow, Ireland with his wife and three children.

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